OPI Muir Muir on the Wall, SpaRitual Imagination, and Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo

This week’s nails were a bit of an experiment because I really wanted to wear Arlo, but I didn’t feel like having so much bling and texture on every finger at the time. The combo turned out looking a bit random, but I think I’m okay with that. :]

In outdoor indirect light, this is:

Ring finger – Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo ($10 regular*), two coats, no top coat

Other fingers – OPI Muir Muir on the Wall ($9.50 regular*), two coats, with a gradient at the tip in SpaRitual Imagination ($12 regular*), approximately two coats, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

* I pretty much never buy any nail polish at full price and highly recommend bargain hunting and using coupons to get the biggest bang for your buck! Prices based off what I saw at Ulta.

Muir Muir on the Wall (which I’ll call MMOTW for short), from OPI’s San Francisco collection last fall/winter, is a watery, semi-sheer black base densely loaded with burgundy shimmer that shifts from plum to gold in the bottle. The blackened base with shimmer reminds me of the Julep “molten” polishes, like Angela and Blakely, or Wet n Wild MegaLast Under Your Spell. The gold side of the color shift doesn’t show up too much on the nail for me, but sometimes it does look more purple, like in the photo above. At least on me, this polish typically looks like a dark burgundy/plum.

From some angles, MMOTW is pretty dark because of that black base:

MMOTW’s formula is good, and it’s mostly opaque in one coat. The second coat evened out the mild patchiness very nicely. It applied smoothly and had an average dry time. The wide, thick, flattened, and square-tipped OPI brush isn’t my favorite, though. It’s a bit wide for my nails, so I have to turn it a bit sideways to keep from painting onto the skin. Otherwise, I’ve got no complaints.

I’ve posted about Imagination before – it’s a sheer mauve/puce base with dichroic shimmer that shifts from magenta to blue/teal. I probably should have known it’d primarily show up teal or blue over MMOTW, but I hoped that the magenta shift might help echo Arlo’s pinkish purple. It kind of does, sometimes:

The teal/blue shimmer wasn’t what I was going for when I initially painted on the gradient, but it doesn’t look so bad. I love the magical color shift on Imagination, either way. The mauve/puce base tone doesn’t really show because it’s so sheer. No problems with application on this one, either. SpaRitual’s rubberized cap is really easy to hold, and the brush is pretty standard, other than the slightly shorter stem. Imagination also dries pretty fast.

Finally, Arlo, from Zoya’s Magical PixieDust collection this summer, is a polish that I really wanted from the first moment I laid eyes on it. It’s got a cheerful pink-purple jelly base just packed with multi-sized holographic hex glitters and dries to a semi-matte, sugary, translucent texture. The texture’s a bit chunkier than the original PixieDust formula, but it’s much smoother than I expected from its hefty payload of glitters. It’s not nearly as rough or jagged as Essie Belugaria. Still, you’d probably have to be into textured polishes to like this one. I love it. It makes me think of a weird cross of kompeito and druzy. :]

Application is great. Arlo’s got good coverage in two coats (though it’ll still be semi-sheer because it’s a jelly), and no glitter placement or pushing around is needed to get a pretty even distribution of glitter and texture. It also dries super fast. The brush is the standard small, round, flat-tipped brush like other Zoya polishes I’ve tried, but the cap on this collection has a grippier, rubberized, velvety finish. It’s a nice touch, especially since the Magical PixieDust polishes cost $1 more than the typical Zoya.

Anyway, here’s a shot in direct sunlight, outdoors – MMOTW definitely looks less purple and more burgundy here:

I think the combination is growing on me.

Next week or the week after, I may have some indie colors to post up. :] Right now, my indie polish collection is pretty small, but I recently ordered a few that I’m really excited about. Something to look forward to!

Revlon Parfumerie Wintermint & Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet with Julep Gloria

I’d bought Revlon Parfumerie Wintermint sometime ago and never gotten around to wearing it. Good thing I met up with my sister over the weekend, and she was wearing Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream, which reminded me to do that. In fact, for fun, I decided to duplicate her nails, except with similar polishes that I had on hand.

This is Wintermint, two coats, on all fingers, except for the accent nail, which is two coats Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet and a heart painted on in Julep Gloria, all topped with one coat of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat. Outdoor indirect sunlight:

I’ve heard that Wintermint is pretty close to Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream, if not an exact dupe. I don’t own the latter, but here’s a detailed comparison from KittyKam’s Nails.

Wintermint is a frosty minty, seafoamy green base with small marine-blue hex glitters and what looks to my naked eye like holo microglitter. The round Parfumerie bottle cap was a little more awkward for me to hold than the typical cylindrical cap, and the brush stem is a bit shorter than average, but the brush itself is pretty standard: round, flat-tipped, and medium width. The formula is smooth, easy to apply, and reasonably opaque in two coats, with no special glitter placement needed. Despite the glitter, it’s not too bumpy when dry. Dries fast.

By the way, my nails smelled pleasantly minty for all of one evening before the scent was no longer noticeable. That was kind of disappointing, since Autumn Spice kept its smell for maybe a few days. Still, the fragrance is a fun novelty.

Mint Sorbet is a straightforward mint creme and can probably be a one-coater, if you’re careful. I wasn’t, so I smoothed it out with a second coat. This polish also dries fast and has a good formula. The brush is flat, flat-tipped, medium width, and very easy to use.

Gloria is a reddish coral creme, one of Julep’s older colors, I think. I’ve never worn it on its own, so I’m not sure how it’d apply normally, but in my application dotting it in a heart shape, it felt a bit thick and dried almost too quickly. I was getting bald spots and threads of dried polish as I lifted my dotting tool sometimes! The upside is that it was very opaque on the first application.

The heart ended up bleeding a little because, as I mentioned before, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat tends to melt the polish under it, even when the polish already feels dry to the touch. I guess it’s a risky top coat to use with nail art, though maybe it could’ve worked out better if I’d let the polish dry even longer after it felt dry to me. My right hand (not shown) had more smearing because I top coated it first. Oops.

By the way, Julep’s Plie tool did help me out here. I tried the Plie dotting attachment both with and without the Plie handle, and I think the handle does help with balance. I’m not sure it’s superior to a typical dotter, though, since I haven’t used others.

And, here’s the original manicure that I was imitating. :] My sister used Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Dream instead of Wintermint, Revlon Jaded instead of Mint Sorbet, and Revlon Provoke instead of Gloria:

Can you tell our hands are related?

I was hoping to do a face-off of sorts, comparing her nails to mine in the same photo, but she tells me her nails have already chipped, so I don’t think we’ll be able to do that this time. I’ve got to get her to try the Miracle Gel top coat!

Maybe next time, we can collaborate on something.

7-day Jamberry challenge results

As part of the Jamberry party activities, our consultant encouraged us to take on the “7-day Jamberry challenge” after receiving our Jamberry nail wrap samples. The challenge involves applying a Jamberry nail wrap to an accent nail and painting the rest of your nails with polish, then checking on the results in seven days.

Here’s day seven of last week’s nails (two coats Revlon Elusive, topped with one coat Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, on all fingers except for the ring finger, which uses a Jamberry Black & White Chevron nail wrap), with day one below it for comparison:

Truth be told, that the polished nails won out in my case is more likely a testament to the amazing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, and maybe also that I used a sturdy glitter polish, than anything else. If I’d tried Jamberry before discovering this top coat, the results may have been much different.

Both held up pretty well, but the Jamberry definitely started showing some significant tip wear, more so than the polish. You can’t really see it in these pictures, but by the fifth day, I was having a teensy bit of lifting all along the tip of the wrap, and by the seventh day, the slightly flappy edge was starting to annoy me. For better wrapped tips, my friend Lily, who’s hosting the Jamberry party, suggested trying the flatiron method (which she said works well for her) or using a plastic bag to seal down the wrap while heating for a tighter bond at the nail tips. Our Jamberry consultant, Katie, also suggested that filing away the worn tip could allow for a few more days of wear. I haven’t tried either of these methods myself, but if I try Jamberry wraps again, I may give them a shot.

Interestingly enough, the little bubble on the side really didn’t detract from the durability of the wrap at all, and I had no lifting issues from that edge. It was mostly just the tip that wore away, which seems like reasonable wear and tear to me, especially given that my nails typically take a pretty good beating. In fact, one thumb and one pinky (not pictured) had noticeably chipped polish, again from emphatic piano playing, so the lacquered nails didn’t remain wholly unscathed, either.

Day seven (top) versus day one again (bottom), from another angle, to better examine tip wear:

As for removal of the Jamberry wrap, I was actually able to very gently and gradually peel off the entire wrap without soaking in hot water or oil and without any nail damage whatsoever – easy! After a week, the wrap was still on reasonably securely, but I think it was on its way to being ready to come off, so that worked out nicely in my case. (The recommended method is soaking in oil (e.g., vegetable oil) and gradually peeling the wrap away with a dental flosser.)

For now, I may just stick to my beloved lacquer. The nail wraps are definitely fun in their own way, but the act of painting is so soothing to me and way more cost effective that it’s hard to talk myself into making the extra $15 investment per Jamberry sheet.

Have any of you tried Jamberry, and what do you think of them?

Revlon Elusive and Jamberry Black & White Chevron, with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

Two of my friends threw Jamberry parties simultaneously, so I’ve had my first taste of the Jamberry experience this past week. I previously knew of them only because I’d read a review of their monthly Stylebox subscription, but I’d never tried the product personally. I threw these nails together to test out the sample I got – one strip of Jamberry nail wrap in Black & White Chevron. I matched the wrap with Revlon Elusive, a polish I kept wanting to wear but somehow never got around to.

Here’s two coats Elusive, topped with one coat Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, on every finger except for the ring, which uses Jamberry Black & White Chevron. Outdoors, in indirect sunlight:

Elusive is a black jelly packed with teal glitters in various sizes and shapes – well, at least some round, some hex, and some micro. I think I’ve also caught a little flash of pink or purple in the microglitter, so there could be more to it than teal, but it’s at least predominantly teal. The formula’s a little clumpy with all the glitter in it, so it requires a little care to apply, but it otherwise glides on pretty easily for a glitter. By that, I mean no special glitter placement or dabbing technique is needed, and it’s opaque in two coats. (Well, it’s opaque in two coats unless your bottle has settled, like mine did. It was watery before I shook it, so my right hand (not pictured) required three coats, but that’s my fault, not the polish’s.) The brush is pretty standard – round, flat-tipped, and of average width.

Elusive dries matte, which would have surprised me, except I’d already read Gotham Polish’s thorough write-up on this polish and knew what to expect. I don’t mind it as a matte polish, actually – it gives Elusive an interestingly offbeat stone-meets-latex look. You can check out Gotham Polish’s post for pictures, since my photo didn’t turn out nearly as well. I think I might like it better glossy, though. The glossy top coat brings out the teal glitter better.

As for the Jamberry Black & White Chevron nail wrap, it was my first experience applying a Jamberry nail wrap (or any nail wrap at all, for that matter), and it was surprisingly easy to do. I followed their official application video pretty exactly: wipe off nail with alcohol, peel off half the wrap with tweezers and cut off that half, heat, stick on nail and smooth over, trim and file off excess, heat again, and done! I did have to trim the wrap to get it to fit on my nail because it was too wide, but that was easily done with scissors. I also had a tiny bit of bubbling at the edge (you can see it on the left side of the nail) that wouldn’t go away with heating and smoothing, but it’s pretty minor, and I’d probably get better with future applications.

I have mixed thoughts about Jamberry so far. I mean, I have no issue with the product itself. In fact, I think they’re fun, and the quality of the product seems good (it’s a durable plastic film). It’s easy to apply, and on the second day, it’s so far stood up pretty well to everyday wear and tear. The design selection’s huge, too, with a Nail Art Studio option that even allows you to use your own custom artwork. Sounds pretty great, right?

My Jamberry sample before I cut it up for application (plus a plug for our lovely consultant).

The only real misgiving I have is the price, which is $15 a sheet (plus extra for shipping), which Jamberry says covers two manicures, two pedicures, and an additional eight to 16 accent nails. If you go with a custom art design, it’s $18.75 per sheet, plus a $6 setup fee per order, kind of like with custom orders at a print shop. Granted, Jamberry seems to offer a buy-three-get-one-free deal (averages to $11.25 a sheet), and our Jamberry consultant has been offering some discounted deals (the party package includes four Jamberry sheets, plus an application kit, cuticle oil, and mini heater for $84), but it’s still kind of steep.

In short, it might be much cheaper than getting your nails done at a salon all the time (after all, you’re cutting out the personal service you pay for at a salon), but way more expensive than painting and stamping your own nails. While the Jamberry wraps are probably more durable than polish, probably a strong selling point for a lot of people, I like trimming my nails short weekly and changing up my colors too often for the two-week durability to be a big pull for me, and my current regimen keeps the polish intact for about as long as I want it on. Whether the wraps are faster to apply is also a toss-up, too, since I paint my nails pretty darn quickly these days. Plus, I just really like the painting part, though I guess gluing on plastic stickers is sort of fun, too.

So, I’m still thinking about it. Jamberry seems like the kind of thing I might want to use once in a while for the fun patterns and maybe special occasions, though, so maybe I’ll pick up a few at some point.

Julep Faye, with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

So far, I’ve been having pretty good results with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, so I’m giving it a try with a non-Sally-Hansen polish this time, Julep Faye.

Faye was introduced in last July’s Maven box (Boho Glam profile), and at the time, I wasn’t interested in it. I think I may have compared it to poo when I initially described the color to my sisters, but I’m sorry about that, and I take it back! :) It’s actually a fascinating color that changes quite a bit in different lighting, and it looks much better in person than in photos.

Check it out. Here’s two coats of color and one coat of top coat in outdoor direct sunlight:

Julep describes Faye as a “[l]iquid bronze shimmer.” It does look bronze to me sometimes and shimmers obviously in brighter light, like in the previous photo. In more subdued light, though, the golden shimmer is actually pretty muted, so that the color comes off as almost a cafe-mocha brown creme, with just a hint of underlying yellowish glimmer:

…but it really glows in straight-up direct sunlight. The underlying brown looks much milder and creamier in brighter light, and the golden shimmer takes over.

The transformation is pretty startling and difficult to capture on camera, but I hope these photos give you something of an idea of how weird and cool this color turned out to be. :]

I had no problems whatsoever with the formula or brush, and it had an average dry time. The Miracle Gel Top Coat brush did pick up some of the nail color when I swiped it over Faye, though, despite the polish feeling dry to the touch. That’s the one thing that’s a bit annoying about the top coat, though it’s easily fixed by wiping off the brush on a tissue. It also quickly dries to a marvelous shine and has great wear, so I guess I can forgive that particular peccadillo.

Random story about Faye – I actually got this bottle as a gift from my sister, who spotted Julep’s Jane Park at a Julep booth set up at a conference for women in engineering last year. They chatted for a little bit and my sister told Jane how all three of us sisters are Julep Mavens. It sounds like Jane was delighted, especially because she also comes from a family with three girls, and she gave us three freebie polishes to share. <3 That was really sweet of her. Anyway, that’s how Faye wound up in my collection, despite my mistaken lack of appreciation for the color at first.

Like last time, I’ll update this post next week to tell you how well it did over the week!

UPDATE 8/13/14: This manicure endured pretty well and since I was too busy to play the piano, it only suffered one chip on the left thumb after about five days. Tip wear showed more obviously on these nails because of the darker polish, but it was relatively minimal. When I removed the polish yesterday, it still looked presentable, other than the left thumb chip.

I think the results are pretty conclusive at this point: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat really does work just as well with non-Miracle-Gel polishes!

Sally Hansen Sugar Shimmer Work of Tart, with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

Today’s swatch is Sally Hansen Work of Tart, from the Sugar Shimmer collection. I wanted to try out the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat with a non-Miracle-Gel polish, to see if I’d get the same excellent durability, so I used the top coat over Work of Tart.

Here’s two coats Work of Tart and one coat Miracle Gel Top Coat in direct sunlight:

Work of Tart is a textured, somewhat sheer teal jelly with a fine, pearly chartreuse shimmer and slightly chunkier iridescent shimmer scattered throughout. The result is an interesting multidimensional polish that doesn’t quite look like what you’d expect from the bottle, and its appearance shifts depending on the angle and lighting.

Official bottle shot. (Source: SallyHansen.com, source page linked to image.)

Here’s another angle to better show the green-gold underlying shimmer, again in direct sunlight:

Sometimes, the color and the way the shimmer caught the light really reminded me of water, especially when the greenish shimmer came up through the bluer semi-sheer teal jelly. It was unexpectedly pretty. My photos don’t quite do it justice. Here’s another photo in indirect light, where I think it’s slightly easier to see the complexity in the color:

The formula is a little sheer, the way jellies are, but it built up to a reasonable opacity on the second coat. The flexible, medium-width, flat-tipped brush was easy to use – much better than the Miracle Gel nail color brush I wrote about last time. Work of Tart also dries really fast, which is a bonus.

Official bottle shot. (Source: SallyHansen.com, source page linked to image.)

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat went on smoothly, and as I expected, it dried super fast when I went out into the sun for just a few minutes. I definitely recommend using this top coat indoors while the sun is still out, so you can quickly cure it in the sun. It speeds up the drying process a ton, compared to when I used the same top coat at night!

With Work of Tart, I didn’t see any color transfer on the top coat brush. The top coat brush, by the way, is way superior to the Miracle Gel nail color brush. It’s flexible, wide, and round-tipped, and not as bulky and mop-like as the Miracle Gel nail color brush, with clear plastic bristles.

One coat definitely didn’t smooth out the texture in the polish, but the gloss brought out the shimmer nicely. After these photos, I added a second coat, which still didn’t smooth out the texture, as this top coat isn’t particularly thick. I like that there’s no shrinkage with this one, though, which gives it some points over Seche Vite and Julep Freedom.

Like last time, I’ll update this post again toward the one-week mark, so I can tell you how well this combo survived. Until then!

UPDATE 8/6/14: A week later, just like with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel B-Girl, my nail polish was virtually like new, with no significant tip wear and chips only on my thumbs and right pinky, where I wrecked my nails playing the piano again. Looks like the Miracle Gel Top Coat works just as well with non-Miracle-Gel polishes! Work of Tart and the Miracle Gel Top Coat soaked off together in 3 minutes. Pretty fast!

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel B Girl & top coat | Face-off: Julep Paris vs. Nicole by OPI Lips Are Dripping Honey

This post is kind of a two-birds-one-stone kind of deal.

CVS recently gave me a coupon to try out Sally Hansen’s new Miracle Gel polishes, so I decided to go ahead and give them a shot. After all, I’d read some good things about these polishes. I was pretty intrigued by the promise of gel-like durability in a regular nail polish. I know Miracle Gel has the world gel in there, but after reading up on it, it sounds more like a regular nail polish with a top coat that reacts in sunlight to bond with the nail color underneath. It’s supposedly easily removable without soaking, and you don’t need a UV lamp. Yeah, that sounded pretty good to me, too!

This is three thin coats of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel B Girl in natural light, topped with one coat of Julep Paris on the ring finger and one coat of Nicole by OPI Lips Are Dripping Honey (from their Carrie Underwood collection). All of that is topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, which is what supposedly makes the magic happen.

B Girl‘s formula is fine, though it looked patchy even after two coats, so I added a third for evenness. It looked decent on the third coat, and I love the creamy, minty green-blue color. It’s exactly the kind of color I’m always drawn to. Dry time was average.

Once that all dried, I applied one coat Julep Paris on the ring finger and one coat Nicole by OPI Lips Are Dripping Honey on the middle finger, which I’ll compare in a minute.

Here’s another angle to show the rainbows in the holo glitters:

The main problem with B Girl’s application was the wonky brush, which, frankly, sucked. It’s a wide, almost mop-like brush, with a curved tip, which is fine, but the bristles were unevenly trimmed and resulted in some bristles pressing into the polish and causing streaks. Ugh. At least the polish formula was somewhat self-leveling, though it didn’t quite make up for the bad brush.

LF_140722b

Anyway, it all worked out in the end, thanks to the Miracle Gel Top Coat. It’s a somewhat viscous top coat, though not nearly as thick as Seche Vite. Like with Seche Vite when not applied carefully, I did have some polish transfer onto the brush when I applied the top coat, even though the nail polish underneath was dry to the touch. I did my best to glide the top coat on a la Seche Vite, but it’s harder with the thinner formula. The top coat dried like a normal top coat and took a while, though that was because I painted my nails at night, and I couldn’t use the sun to cure it quickly. I’d recommend using this during the daytime, if possible, so you can take advantage of the UV curing. I’d suppose that a UV lamp could do the same thing, but I haven’t tried this and can’t confirm.

It’s currently one day in, and the nails are looking good, as promised – no tip wear at all yet! I’ll update this in about a week to add notes on durability.

Meanwhile, here’s a face-off between Paris and Lips Are Dripping Honey. When I saw LADH on sale at the drugstore, I was immediately drawn to it…and then I realized I already had its twin at home. Of course, that motivated me even more to pick it up because I love sniffing out dupes. Here’s a close-up (Paris on the left (ring finger) and LADH on the right (middle finger)):

They’re basically the same thing, as I’d suspected: holo hex glitters that are gold on one side and silver on the other, mixed with a smattering of holo microglitters in a clear base. The only real difference seems to be that Paris is noticeably thicker and suspends the glitters better, so that they generally apply in a good distribution, even if you just brush it on like you would a regular nail polish. I didn’t really have to place glitters for LADH either, per se, but just swiping on the polish left a much sparser distribution of glitters. My swatch shows both basically just brushed on without any special technique, though I did end up pushing/dabbing a little with LADH, just because the thinner formula made it a little more challenging for glitters to stay put on the nail. They both dry pretty fast.

Otherwise, I honestly probably couldn’t tell these apart without being told, and you can get the same glitter density with LADH if you just put on two coats. There’s a huge price difference between the two, though. Paris goes for $14 regular ($11.20 Maven) for 0.27 fl. oz./8 mL, while LADH goes for about $7.99 at CVS for 0.5 fl. oz./15 mL, easily cheaper if you have a coupon or catch it on sale. Using the regular prices, though, by volume, Paris is about 3.3 times the price of LADH, a little better (about 2.6 times) if you’re a Maven. I prefer Paris’ formula, but I don’t know if it’s worth the price premium.

The Sally Hansen Miracle Gel colors and top coat go for $9.99 each at CVS and can be much better priced if you can scare up a coupon. :] If you’ve tried Miracle Gel, what did you think?

UPDATE 7/29/14: I wore these nails for 8 days to test out durability, and it stood up pretty well to my being pretty rough with my hands. The only nails that had any chipping or significant wear were the ones where part of the nail itself chipped off (mostly from emphatic piano playing, again) – both thumbs and my right pinky. The rest of the nails stayed amazingly intact! Also, removal was a breeze. The nails with the additional glitter took the usual 10 minutes to soak off, and the rest came off effortlessly in seconds, like a normal creme polish. I think Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is a winner!

Next, I’ll be testing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat with other polishes, to see if it does the magic on its own. Stay tuned!